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Wednesday, 5 October 1910
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Senator McGREGOR (South AustraliaVicePresident of the Executive Council) . - I move -

That thisBill be now read a first time.

This is a Bill which is debated on the first reading, but I do not thinkit should lead to any lengthy discussion, because it proposes merely a grant from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of£816,619 for the ordinary services of government on the basis of last year's Estimates. Honorable senators recognise that until the Estimates for the current financial year are passed we have to depend on these temporary Supply Bills. We are asking, in this instance, for two months' Supply, not because we do not hope that the session will have closed before the expiration of that time, but because it is possible that it will last into the second month, and by granting two months' temporary Supply now we shall obviate the necessity of passing another Supply Bill before the Appropriation Bill is dealt with. There is no extraordinary item covered by the Bill, and therefore honorable senators will not consider it necessary to discuss it at great length. As there is a long programme of work to be got through before the session closes, the less time that is wasted on formal matters of this description the greater will be the probability of our being able to get through the business in a reasonable time.

Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD (New South Wales) [2.48].- The Vice-President of the Executive Council might very well have explained to the Senate what work the Government contemplate proceeding with during the remainder of the session. I notice from the press that the Prime Minister in another place made a statement with regard to the matters with which the Government intend to ask Parliament to deal before the session comes to a close. I think a similar courtesy should have been extended to the

Senate. It has hitherto been customary when a statement of the business to be submitted to Parliament has been made in another place it has been at once repeated here. As the Senate did not sit yesterday, it was, of course, impossible for the VicePresident of the Executive Council to inform honorable senators then as to the business to be proceeded with during the remainder of the session, but the honorable senator might very well have made a full statement to-day. If one is to judge from the newspaper reports of the work which, according to the Prime Minister, the Government contemplate asking Parliament to tackle, it is of sufficient importance and volume to occupy both Chambers for sis months. Some time ago we were led to believe that a strong effort would be made to close the session before the Prime Minister left for South Africa. At the time a very important measure was under consideration in another Chamber, and, very naturally, led to considerable discussion, and it has been found impossible to get the work of the session done as expeditiously as some persons seemed to anticipate.

Senator Needham - It all depends on how long the Opposition can talk.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I am very glad that the Opposition in the present Parliament do not merely say yea or nay to every proposal submitted by the Government. We have been able to give reasons for the opinions we hold, which on several occasions have had an important effect upon the legislation introduced by the Government. We are promised a Bill for a referendum on a most important proposed alteration of the Constitution, and we shall require a considerable time for the proper consideration of that measure. A number of Bills mentioned by the Prime Minister bristle with technicalities and difficulties, and deal with matters upon which there is great divergence of opinion. We have not yet reached a stage when we can rely solely upon the ability, industry, and intelligence of the Ministry or of the Caucus to submit perfect legislation, which will be in the best interests of the country. I am prepared to admit that, so far as they are able to judge, Ministers give their best attention to their business, and submit what they believe to be perfect measures. But when those measures are made public, and are subjected to the criticism of the Opposition, it is invariably found that they are open to. material improvement.

Senator Story - The Opposition usually consider any alteration an improvement.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - No; but they have not yet been able to accept the view that the Caucus should decide the form which our legislation should take.

Senator Needham - Honorable senators opposite determined their legislation of last session by caucus.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I have frequently observed that this Chamber is one of the most fertile places in Australia for fiction, and I think that publishers generally would take advantage of a great opportunity for the production of fiction if they gave a little attention to the imaginative and fictitious statements which are so frequently heard in this Chamber. I have no objection to voting the money required for the ordinary services of government on the basis of Estimates already approved. I do not know whether this Bill contains anything more, but I have not had an opportunity of going through it. I should like to know whether another little vote is included for the Treasurer's Advance account.

Senator McGregor - No ; there is nothing in this Bill for the Treasurer's Advance account.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - That is as it should be, for we treated the Treasurer very liberally a little time ago.

Senator Buzacott - There is something down for the Federal Capital site.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I have not been able too discover that, but the Bill should certainly include a vote for the purpose. I hope that when the Vice-President of the Executive Council replies to the debate on the first reading he will give the Senate a statement of the business that the Government really contemplate placing before this Chamber during the remainder of the session. I must say that I think the Prime Minister made a very heavy demand upon the credulity of honorable members in another place when he invited them to believe that they would be able, in the course of a month or so, to deal with matters the consideration of which might very well occupy six months. Perhaps the Vice-President of the Executive Council will be able to explain that this demand on the credulity of honorable members was due only to the exuberance of the moment.

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